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Hannaford shot woman, threatened her with machete, court hears

Michael Hannaford is escorted from the courtroom by sheriffs during a break in his trial Monday.
Michael Hannaford is escorted from the courtroom by sheriffs during a break in his trial Monday. - Tara Bradbury

Witness says Hannaford was 'defending himself'

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Washing his car in the backyard of his Empire Avenue home last May, the man said, he heard a commotion next door and then the sound of smashing glass.

Walking to the front of his neighbour's house, he said, he saw Michael Hannaford, whom he had known since they were kids, along with two women and an SUV with a smashed rear window.

Hannaford was standing on his front step holding a rusty machete and saying nothing, the man testified in provincial court in St. John's Monday. The two women were "almost hysterical."

"One of them was screaming, 'I'm going to kill you,'" the man said.

He told the court he then went inside and called the police.

The man was the fourth witness to testify during the first day of trial for Hannaford, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to murder a woman by shooting her, assault causing bodily harm, uttering threats, pointing a firearm, damaging property, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and unauthorized possession of a firearm.

The RNC responded to the neighbour's call and two officers arrived at Hannaford's residence, finding Hannaford and the two women outside. After taking a statement from one of the women and calling for other officers to come and photograph the damage to the vehicle and to a stairwell post, police escorted Hannaford first to a backyard shed where he secured his dirt bike, and then inside the home.

"One of them was screaming, 'I'm going to kill you.'" — Michael Hannaford's neighbour

Const. Shane McClafferty told the court Hannaford had bandages on both hands, which he said were due to injuries from falling off his bike.

Inside the house, McClafferty said he noticed a sheathed machete near the front door.

While escorting Hannaford back outside and into the police vehicle, McClafferty said, one of the women, Samantha Burke, yelled at Hannaford.

"When we were going into the house, she had shouted at him, 'When am I going to get my $70?’ She shouted it again," the police officer testified. “I advised her police aren't getting involved in money issues, and she said, 'When am I getting my $70, or I'll tell them what you did to me.’"

McClafferty said he questioned Burke, who lifted the right side of her shirt to reveal a white bandage on her ribs, blood pooling at the bottom near the adhesive.

"She said he had shot her that morning," the police officer testified. "She mentioned to me that Mr. Hannaford had held a machete to her throat as well and she had said, 'Come on.'"

McClafferty testified Burke had told him that she and Hannaford had planned to meet at a store near her house around 5:30 that morning, so he could repay her $70 he had borrowed from her. She came out of her residence and saw Hannaford sitting alone in a car in a nearby parking lot with what she described as a rifle, then heard several loud pops.

Burke declined an ambulance, but agreed to let McClafferty take her to the hospital.

"She stated that she couldn't believe she had ratted on her friend. I told her to try not to get too upset over it, it was a very serious matter," the police officer told the court.

McClafferty said the case was handed over to the RNC's Major Crime Unit.

The second woman at the scene also testified Monday, saying she was a cousin of Burke's and had been giving her a ride home the afternoon of May 18. Burke got into the vehicle upset and appearing intoxicated, the woman said. She didn't know why.

The woman said Burke jumped out of the moving vehicle near Hannaford's house and ran toward it. The woman followed, pulling her SUV into the driveway.

"She ran up towards Mikey aggressively," the woman testified. "I know she was frantic about something. He was up on the step while Samantha was basically in his face. He was saying, 'Get off my property,' like anyone would. He went back into his house and Samantha picked up a rock and threw it. I think she tried to beat the front window in."

"She went there with fire in her eyes. She went there with the intent to do something." — Samantha Burke's cousin

The woman said she had tried to break up the argument before getting back into her vehicle and seeing Hannaford swing something metallic, first hitting a post and then smashing her window.

"Samantha threatened his life so I guess he got angry," the woman said.

"Mikey's not known for stuff like that."

The woman insisted Hannaford had been "defending himself" against her cousin, and had "wanted to give her a warning."

"She went there with fire in her eyes," the woman told the court. "She went there with the intent to do something."

Burke is currently in custody in relation to a different criminal matter.

Hannaford's trial will continue Tuesday with testimony from RNC forensic identification officers.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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